Spring Training: Baseball Hopes Mike Piazza Marriage Will End Controversy
In an attempt to overcome the negative press they've received this off-season, Major League Baseball proudly celebrated the marriage of one their biggest stars during the off-season. Mike Piazza, All-Star catcher for the New York Mets, married former Playboy Playmate and Baywatch star Alicia Rickter on last month in Miami.
Hoping to end the countless rumors of Piazza's homosexuality, MLB worked to arrange a wedding for the superstar before Spring Training. League officials finally reached a contractual agreement with Rickter in late December. Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but are reported to include a seven-figure salary and partial ownership in the Kansas City Royals. There is no word on a "consummation clause" in the contract.
The status of Piazza's sexual orientation has been the subject of debate since his debut in the league in 1992. While his boyish looks and clever smile were the talk of the media, it was the absence of any female contact that led the discussions in the clubhouse. Teammates in Los Angeles would typically avoid being seen with Piazza. In order to deflect attention from the questions of sexuality, the Media Relations staff would typically release statements about the numerous charitable endeavors with which Piazza was involved.
Piazza's sexuality became the focus for all of baseball when he was traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Florida Marlins in 1998. After only four games with the Marlins, Piazza was traded to the New York Mets. While baseball officials called Piazza's stay in Miami a "transition" period while a deal between the Marlins and Mets could be reached, others offer a different view. On his first night in Miami, Piazza was seen dancing intimately with Benjamin Dover, an eccentric restaurant owner in Miami's South Beach area. Upon hearing of the rendezvous, Marlins players and personnel demanded a trade.
Auxiliary Bishop Ignatius Catanello of the Diocese of Brooklyn performed the ceremony and was involved in the arrangement. When asked about the validity of the marriage, he would only wink and say that Piazza was nervous "like a regular groom, but he's okay."